SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have a lot of holes on their roster, but there’s one area where the needs are particularly glaring.
At the moment, there is one outfielder, Steven Duggar, who looks like a solid bet to be a starter on Opening Day, but even he faces question marks after having his rookie season cut short by shoulder surgery. New president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi needs a couple of solutions for the corner spots, and depending on what he does with the arbitration-eligible Gorkys Hernandez, he might need another player capable of handling center.
[RELATED: Get to know Steven Duggar]
The Giants have some internal options — Chris Shaw, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater — but the free agent market provides plenty of different looks. You're in some trouble, though, if you miss out on the top guys ...
The Superstar: Bryce Harper is in a class by himself, and if Scott Boras gets his way, his salary will be in a class by itself, too. The Giants have always liked Harper, but they’re unlikely to get too involved in the bidding.
Tier II: A.J. Pollock, Michael Brantley, Andrew McCutchen.
This group could either provide the Giants with another middle-of-the-order bat … or another terrible contract. All three of these players are in their thirties and will likely seek deals of at least three years, and according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today,
Pollock is looking for The Lorenzo Cain: five years, $80 million. That’s a lot for a player who has had serious trouble staying on the field. Brantley comes with injury risk, too, but would give the Giants a huge boost when it comes to reaching base. McCutchen liked San Francisco and wanted to stay. If his price drops, he could be the best fit.
The Wild Card: Marwin Gonzalez.
The former Astro can play every infield spot and made 65 starts in left last season. If the Giants think Shaw, Williamson or Slater will work into the everyday mix, Gonzalez would be interesting as someone who could get plenty of starts in left and then move around on other days.
Former All-Stars: Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Carlos Gonzalez.
The drop-off is pretty steep once you get past the guys previously mentioned. Markakis is coming off his best year, but Zaidi said he wants to get younger and more athletic, and the former Brave just turned 35. Jones is 33 and far removed from his peak, but perhaps he could provide some right-handed pop in a corner. Gonzalez, 33, had a .633 OPS away from Coors Field last season and has a .637 OPS in 74 career games at AT&T Park.
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The Rest: Gerardo Parra, Denard Span, Jon Jay, Hunter Pence, Melky Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Gomez, Matt Joyce, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, Derek Dietrich.
You can add a few more similar types to this list, too. Ironically, there are quite a few former Giants looking for outfield jobs, but don’t expect any reunions. You don’t have to go far down this list before you decide, “Man, we’re much better off just playing our own young outfielders and hoping one of them breaks out.”